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390                               POLITICAL SCIENCE.
sion of taxes among the members of the mir, who are jointly
responsible for the debts of the separate members ; granting
of passports to its members ; discharging old members and
receiving new ones; and judging in small civil and criminal
cases. Formerly recruiting, or furnishing soldiers to govern-
ment, was also one of the duties. The meetings of the
assembly, that is, of the inhabitants, are informally called by
the elder or starosta, as the people are leaving church; and
are held frequently sub dioy and often in the neighborhood of
a tavern. When there has been talk enough, the question is
not put and decided by a majority, but if there appears to be
a difference of opinion they adjourn, and do this more than
once, until the minority withdraw, or some compromise is
effected. When there are candidates for some office, the
names are talked over before the meeting begins ; and when a
name is mentioned, the meeting shows its feeling in a few
words, and a decision is made. The community has a good
deal of power over its members, but this is exercised rarely
except for the purpose of compelling them to pay their share
of the taxes.*
I have said and need say nothing respecting self-governing
self-governing  divisions greater than towns, since in the matter
power in counts.    of local and self-government they have but a
subordinate interest. The county brings justice near to the
people, who otherwise would be oppressed by its expensive-
ness ; and it is convenient for some purposes of administration,
but is of little use in calling forth and keeping up the self-
governing capacity of the people. In the southern states of
our Union the system of slavery required that plantations
should be larger than they would be in communities composed
of freemen only, and there was no centre of population except
the county-seat This prevented common schools, and ren-
dered joint action difficult except for communities spread
over a district of considerable size. In some of these states,
*Ashton W. Dilke, in Essays, u. s., 314-317. I have in some
places made use of his words. Comp. Laveleye, de la propri&e, chap.